It's no wonder that Melbourne, with its world-class sporting events, incredible new restaurants, amazing coffee, and impressive range of environs (the beach, snowfields, and wineries are all within a short drive), is often voted one of the world's most liveable cities. Monocle just ranked it number two behind Copenhagen in their annual survey, and you can see my Details city guide for some of the best shops and cultural destinations. Still, after living here for three years, the one thing that never really made sense to me was the way the men dressed.
When you think of British, Italian, or American menswear, you immediately associate it with a particular style, but that's never been the case in this part of the world. Why has the menswear industry here taken so long to flourish? You could blame geography or the laidback lifestyle, but thankfully, over the last few years there has been a been a kind of menswear revolution taking hold of the Melbourne gentlemen, with loads of new businesses run by savvy young fashion enthusiasts bursting onto the scene. These guys understand what a younger gent is looking for, not only in the product, but in the retail experience, too.
I began my brand here a few years ago with similar ideas of quality, value, and traditional methods of construction at the heart of the business. It was about making great menswear more accessible and appealing to younger guys, which, with some luck, has been very well received thus far.
But I'm hardly the only one trying to keep the local gents looking smart. Here's an introduction to a few of the region's industry leaders.
Matt Newman, founding member of Suit Shop
Vitals: Soccer mad and a hip-hop fan.
His menswear mission: Suit Shop produces some of the best made-to-measure suiting available at an affordable price point ($1,000 or less), making a well-fit suit more accessible than it's ever been here. A Patrick Johnson-trained tailor (Matt in Melbourne or cofounder Remy in Sydney) comes to your home or office for a consultation and fitting, and your suit is shipped to you within three to four weeks. Online ordering is soon to follow.
On the changing menswear scene: "There's certainly a noticeable shift toward a modern and relevant interpretation of classic menswear. Tailoring is obviously re-entering the business world with a force. Guys are really taking care again, which is great to see."
His go-to outfit: "A Naples blue Suit Shop suit with a peak lapel for a bit of punch. Lightly structured, simple, and sophisticated. I always keep a navy and a black knit tie on hand, as well as a tie with a simple grey motif. And for wheels (Aussie slang for shoes) I most often wear my chocolate suede Crockett and Jones. They're indispensable."
Follow him on Instagram @suitshop_au.
Chris Schaerf, cofounder of Double Monk
Vitals: A weightlifter with a love of fountain pens and English-made shoes.
Chris ditched his former job as a lawyer to partner with his brother Nick (who's studying to be a neurosurgeon) to open Double Monk, one of the most beautifully designed stores in Australia. The shop stocks killer footwear and has quickly become a menswear destination for locals and out-of-towners alike.
His menswear mission: "My brother Nick and I dreamed of opening our own shoe store for as long as I can remember. We've both been long-term customers of all the brands we carry and particularly love English-made welted shoes. Frustrated with the poor range that was available in Australia and tired of only being able to buy when we were overseas, we decided to go for it. After 18 months of prep work we opened our doors in December 2012."
Style inspiration: "I hate to admit it, but I've always drawn inspiration from my older brother. He's confident and doesn't give a f*ck what people think. When we were kids, we both read Bernhard Roetzel's books on men's dressing from cover to cover and it only grew from there. Plus, our old man was a weightlifter and all of his shirts and suits had to be tailored. We loved all the little customized details."
Follow him on Instagram @dblmnk.
Tom Riley, of Patrick Johnson
Vitals: We know the talented Mr. Riley as a sort of sartorial Yoda at Patrick Johnson, which recently moved to a beautiful new showroom in Melbourne's Windsor neighborhood (the location is also home to Patrick Johnson's newest recruit, Porter Dowd, of the menswear blog The Puerto Rican Social Club). Tom's passion for tailoring is matched only by his love of good wine—he just released his first batch at T B Riley Wines.
"I'm a formally trained winemaker making small quantities of single-vineyard, super premium wine for the past 10 years. Aesthetically speaking, both tailoring and winemaking have a lot to do with composition, balance, taste, and quality."
His menswear mission: "Patrick Johnson makes su misura (Italian for "tailor-made") suits in Italy with a very conscious design for Australian lifestyle and weather. We like a sportier, minimal, luxurious, and yet practical approach compared to most tailors around Melbourne (and Sydney). We aim to be the best light-weight tailor in the world."
His go-to outfit: "Most days I reach for an unstructured jacket in an open-weave wool, a fine crisp poplin or twill shirt, a pair of polished cotton trousers, and a pair of driving shoes we hand-make in Domodossola, Italy."
Follow him on Instagram @tbrileywines.
From left: Porter Dowd, Christian Kimber, Matthew Newman, Chris Schaerf, Tom Riley.
—Christian Kimber, Melbourne designer and Details Network contributor. Follow him on Instagram @C_Kimber.